With all religious piety of attending daily Eucharist, praying our daily devotionals and reading the word have we truly grown in our love for Jesus and for one another? How is this evident in our lives? Are others drawn to our faith by the way we live our lives? Do we have every confidence that when we face the challenges and battles ahead, the Lord our God is truly present with us every step of the way?

The Lord our God truly sees into the depths of our heart. There is nothing we can hide from Him. He not only sees our pain and struggle, He profoundly identifies and shares in it. And so in His mercy and love He truly wants to set us free when we cry out to Him. And He will do so, so that we can live freely in His love. The grace and power of the Lord our God resides in the hearts of His faithful not in the physical weapons they wield in their fight against evil. So let us guard our hearts against all evil and sin striving always to grow in Holiness through the grace of our ever loving God.

Jesus my Lord, be present with me this day and everyday. Amen

First reading

1 Samuel 4:1-11 ·
Israel is defeated and the ark of God is captured

It happened at that time that the Philistines mustered to fight Israel and Israel went out to meet them in battle, encamping near Ebenezer while the Philistines were encamped at Aphek. The Philistines drew up their battle line against Israel, the battle was hotly engaged, and Israel was defeated by the Philistines and about four thousand of their army were killed on the field. The troops returned to the camp and the elders of Israel said, ‘Why has the Lord allowed us to be defeated today by the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of our God from Shiloh so that it may come among us and rescue us from the power of our enemies.’’ So the troops sent to Shiloh and brought away the ark of the Lord of Hosts, he who is seated on the cherubs; the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, came with the ark. When the ark of the Lord arrived in the camp, all Israel gave a great shout so that the earth resounded. When the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said, ‘What can this great shouting in the Hebrew camp mean?’ And they realised that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp. At this the Philistines were afraid; and they said, ‘God has come to the camp.’ ‘Alas!’ they cried ‘This has never happened before. Alas! Who will save us from the power of this mighty God? It was he who struck down Egypt with every kind of plague! But take courage and be men, Philistines, or you will become slaves to the Hebrews as they have been slaves to you. Be men and fight.’ So the Philistines joined battle and Israel was defeated, each man fleeing to his tent. The slaughter was great indeed, and there fell of the Israelites thirty thousand foot soldiers. The ark of God was captured too, and the two sons of Eli died, Hophni and Phinehas.

Gospel

Mark 1:40-45
The leprosy left the man at once, and he was cured

A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.’ The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.


Lord help me listen to Your sweet voice.

So caught up with the many challenges in life that we face our prayer life if any, is often about asking, asking, more asking even pleading for ourselves, our loved ones or those who have asked us to pray. If not it is about telling, telling, more telling, a running commentary of our days and nights, with instructions for our Lord on how and what help is needed. What kind of relationship do we have with the Lord our God? Is it a right relationship? Is the Lord our God a vending machine or an ATM? Where we select what we want and automatically it must be dispensed? And if we don’t receive what we want then we complain for lack of service or a timely one at that!? Are we God and He our person? Who is the master and who is the servant?

Have we not learnt in our own relationships with others that the key to a meaningful, fruitful relationship is our about ability and resolve to listen to the heart of the other. What we are saying by our action of active listening is that the person or persons speaking to us are important, we honour them by patiently listening. We hear and see what their hearts are saying and in essence we listen with our hearts.

All the more our relationship with the Lord our God should be like this and more, such that our prayer life is one of listening to His Will and Word for us. There is nothing wrong with intercessory prayers or even sharing with Him how our day went but more time must be set aside for listening to Him. For His Word is life giving, it ministers to us, nourishing us and conferring the grace and strength we need to face and tackle the challenges we face in life. It also enables us to share His love, the good news of our salvation, so that all who will listen can share in the eternal glory with God our Heavenly Father.

Lord help me listen to Your sweet voice. Amen

First reading

1 Samuel 3:1-10,19-20 ·
‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening’

The boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli; it was rare for the Lord to speak in those days; visions were uncommon. One day, it happened that Eli was lying down in his room. His eyes were beginning to grow dim; he could no longer see. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying in the sanctuary of the Lord where the ark of God was, when the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ He answered, ‘Here I am.’ Then he ran to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ Eli said, ‘I did not call. Go back and lie down.’ So he went and lay down. Once again the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ He replied, ‘I did not call you, my son; go back and lie down.’ Samuel had as yet no knowledge of the Lord and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. Once again the Lord called, the third time. He got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ Eli then understood that it was the Lord who was calling the boy, and he said to Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if someone calls say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
The Lord then came and stood by, calling as he had done before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Samuel answered, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’
Samuel grew up and the Lord was with him and let no word of his fall to the ground. All Israel from Dan to Beersheba came to know that Samuel was accredited as a prophet of the Lord.

Gospel

Mark 1:29-39
He cast out devils and cured many who were suffering from disease

On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straightaway. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on them.
That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town came crowding round the door, and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he also cast out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.
In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, ‘Everybody is looking for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.’ And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 14, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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How many this day will offer up their children to God for priesthood or the religious life? And really encourage and nurture them such that they are able to respond to the call. Fully aware that it is a sacred call to be set apart for such service and a great blessing for all! Nay most are primarily concerned that their family name continues and who it is that will, or rather must care for them in their old age. And if not for these reasons they feel they know what is best for their own children and that there will always be someone else better suited for this calling. Really? What if everyone thought this way? The real question we should be asking is, whose authority is it that we all come under? Who is it that should decide what is best for us? Do we actually mean what we pray…. Thy kingdom come, thy Will be done!?

Indeed we all have different gifts and talents. Each and everyone of us has a vocation in life to be the best that they can be for the Lord their God and for one another. In order to this, we must carefully discern our Lord’s call for us and we can only do so when we willingly and wholeheartedly subject ourselves to His Holy Will for us.

Here I am Lord, I come to do Your Will. Amen

First reading

1 Samuel 1:9-20
The Lord is mindful of Hannah and she gives birth to Samuel

After they had eaten in the hall, Hannah rose and took her stand before the Lord, while Eli the priest was sitting on his seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. In the bitterness of her soul she prayed to the Lord with many tears and made a vow, saying, ‘O Lord of Hosts! If you will take notice of the distress of your servant, and bear me in mind and not forget your servant and give her a man-child, I will give him to the Lord for the whole of his life and no razor shall ever touch his head.’
While she prayed before the Lord which she did for some time, Eli was watching her mouth, for she was speaking under her breath; her lips were moving but her voice could not be heard. He therefore supposed that she was drunk and said to her, ‘How long are you going to be in this drunken state? Rid yourself of your wine.’ ‘No, my lord,’ Hannah replied ‘I am a woman in great trouble; I have taken neither wine nor strong drink – I was pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not take your maidservant for a worthless woman; all this time I have been speaking from the depth of my grief and my resentment.’ Then Eli answered her: ‘Go in peace,’ he said ‘and may the God of Israel grant what you have asked of him.’ And she said, ‘May your maidservant find favour in your sight’; and with that the woman went away; she returned to the hall and ate and was dejected no longer.
They rose early in the morning and worshipped before the Lord and then set out and returned to their home in Ramah. Elkanah had intercourse with Hannah his wife and the Lord was mindful of her. She conceived and gave birth to a son, and called him Samuel ‘since’ she said ‘I asked the Lord for him.’

Gospel

Mark 1:21-28
Unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority

Jesus and his disciples went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.
In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.


Fidelity to the Lord our God and our willingness to put all else aside to respond to His Will for us. This is our call today to greater discipleship.

Let us reflect on how faithful are we to the Lord our God? How often do we worship Him and give Him thanks for all His blessings upon us? Daily? Weekly? Annually? Are we hopeful and eager to bear fruit for our Lord? Are we willing to suffer taunts for His namesake? Do we love and revere Him above all? How wonderful to hear the loving voice of our bridegroom remind us; “Am I not more to You then anything or anyone else?” ”For I love you with an everlasting love.”

And so are we able to leave our life in the world behind to follow Him? To let go of any insecurities, perceived shortcomings so as to become instruments of His grace. For we trust and know that all things are possible through and with Him. And so we carry our cross to follow Him. As we cast the net of His Love far and wide to draw as many we can to Him. Amen

First reading

1 Samuel 1:1-8 ·
Hannah’s rival taunts her for being barren

There was a man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the highlands of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives, one called Hannah, the other Peninnah; Peninnah had children but Hannah had none. Every year this man used to go up from his town to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of Hosts in Shiloh. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there as priests of
One day Elkanah offered sacrifice. He and used to give portions to Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; to Hannah, however, he would give only one portion, although he loved her more, since the Lord had made her barren. Her rival would taunt her to annoy her, because the Lord had made her barren. And this went on year after year; every time they went up to the temple of the Lord she used to taunt her. And so Hannah wept and would not eat. Then Elkanah her husband said to her, ‘Hannah, why are you crying and why are you not eating? Why so sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?’

Gospel

Mark 1:14-20
I will make you into fishers of men

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’
As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him.
Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending their nets. He called them at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.

Baptism of the Lord

Posted: January 11, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
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Anointed Ones: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Baptism of the Lord

Readings:

Isaiah 42:1–4, 6–7
Psalm 29:1–4, 9–10
Acts 10:34–38
Matthew 3:13–17

Jesus presents himself for baptism in today’s Gospel not because He is a sinner, but to fulfill the word of God proclaimed by His prophets. He must be baptized to reveal that He is the Christ (“anointed one”)—the Spirit-endowed Servant promised by Isaiah in today’s First Reading.

His baptism marks the start of a new world, a new creation. As Isaiah prophesied, the Spirit descends upon Jesus like a dove—as the Spirit hovered over the face of the deep in the beginning (see Genesis 1:2).
As it was in the beginning, at the Jordan also the majestic voice of the Lord thunders above the waters. The Father opens the heavens and declares Jesus to be His “beloved son.”

God had long prepared the Israelites for His coming, as Peter preaches in today’s Second Reading. Jesus was anticipated in the “beloved son” given to Abraham (see Genesis 22:2, 12, 26), and in the calling of Israel as His “first-born son” (see Exodus 4:22–23). Jesus is the divine son begotten by God, the everlasting heir promised to King David (see Psalm 2:7; 2 Samuel 7:14).

He is “a covenant of the people [Israel]” and “a light to the nations,” Isaiah says. By the new covenant made in His blood (see 1 Corinthians 11:25), God has gathered the lost sheep of Israel together with whoever fears Him in every nation.

Christ has become the source from which God pours out His Spirit on Israelites and Gentiles alike (see Acts 10:45). In Baptism, all are anointed with that same Spirit, made beloved sons and daughters of God. Indeed, we are Christians—literally “anointed ones.”

We are the “sons of God” in today’s Psalm—called to give glory to His name in His temple. Let us pray that we remain faithful to our calling as His children, that our Father might call us what he calls His Son, “my beloved . . . in whom I am well pleased.”


God has no favourites as we are reminded in tomorrow’s second reading on the feast of the baptism of our Lord. And so we are so lavishly loved and gifted according to His Will for us. And if others have the same gift but are better at it, we must rejoice for it had been put to very good use for our Lord! If indeed we are lacking of anything to build His kingdom, to serve Him or brethen in love, we need only pray and He will provide for all that we need.

All sin is bad whether venial or mortal. Therefore we must avoid any and all sin. For even little ones will always lead to bigger and more terrible ones. If we fall into sin then we must quickly do all that we need to come back into full union with our Lord whether it be as simple as a contrite prayer or going for the Sacrament of reconciliation. There are two sins that I feel we need to guard ourselves against especially those of us who try our best to serve others through discipleship of our Lord Jesus Christ; that is spiritual pride and spiritual envy! For our service becomes a big zero as we end up serving no one but our own egos. What we say and do only drives others away instead of leading them closer to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us pray for one another to remain steadfast in our love and service of Him and one another. All for His glory now and forever. Amen

First reading

1 John 5:14-21 ·
If we ask for anything, he will hear us

We are quite confident that if we ask the Son of God for anything, and it is in accordance with his will,
he will hear us; and, knowing that whatever we may ask, he hears us, we know that we have already been granted what we asked of him.
If anybody sees his brother commit a sin that is not a deadly sin, he has only to pray, and God will give life to the sinner – not those who commit a deadly sin; for there is a sin that is death and I will not sa that you must pray about that. Every kind of wrong-doing is sin, but not all sin is deadly.

We know that anyone who has been begotten by God does not sin, because the begotten Son of God protects him, and the Evil One does not touch him.
We know that we belong to God, but the whole world lies in the power of the Evil One.
We know, too, that the Son of God has come, and has given us the power to know the true God. We are in the true God,
as we are in his Son, Jesus Christ.
This is the true God, this is eternal life. Children, be on your guard against false gods.

Gospel

John 3:22-30
‘He must grow greater and I must grow smaller: my joy is complete’

Jesus went with his disciples into the Judaean countryside and stayed with them there and baptised. At the same time John was baptising at Aenon near Salim, where there was plenty of water, and people were going there to be baptised. This was before John had been put in prison.
Now some of John’s disciples had opened a discussion with a Jew about purification, so they went to John and said, ‘Rabbi, the man who was with you on the far side of the Jordan, the man to whom you bore witness, is baptising now; and everyone is going to him.’
John replied:

‘A man can lay claim
only to what is given him from heaven.

‘You yourselves can bear me out: I said: I myself am not the Christ; I am the one who has been sent in front of him.

‘The bride is only for the bridegroom; and yet the bridegroom’s friend, who stands there and listens, is glad when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. This same joy I feel, and now it is complete. He must grow greater, I must grow smaller.’


We often don’t dwell on our baptism enough. For most it was a one time thing of the past necessary but over and done with. How far from the truth it is. For it was the day we were born again into new life with Christ! An indelible seal was placed upon us and we became for all eternity God our Father’s children. We were made Holy, set apart. Likewise we do not dwell enough on the supreme gift of the Holy Eucharist, where through the Holy sacrifice of the lamb of God, by His precious body and blood we have life eternal with Him. We become partakers of His divinity which gives us the power to overcome all evil and sin. For some it has simply become a habit, a routine we go through, to check off our to-do-list. How far wrong can we be? Perhaps this is one of the reasons we fall easily into sin, we do not dwell and immerse ourselves in the love of our Lord through pray and recollection. We are not grateful enough for the multitude of blessings and graces given to us and so do not give rightful praise and thanksgiving to God daily.

Anyone who has fallen and living in sin knows how life draining it is. We simply have no life in us. We live day to day in a dreary existence always hoping for more, wanting more. Turn back to the Lord! For like the leper in today’s Gospel we too can cry out to Jesus, “Lord if you want to You can cure me.” And He will surely cure us because He loves us and wants us to live fully in His love. A contrite spirit He will not spurn.

Today let us choose to never take the love of our Lord Jesus Christ for granted. Let us dwell in His love, on the precious and Holy Sacraments we have been given which renews us and gives us life. Let us offer our praise and thanksgiving through an increased and greater prayer life, which only leads us closer to Him who loves us dearly. Glory and Praise be to God. Amen

First reading

1 John 5:5-13
There are three witnesses: the Spirit and the water and the blood

Who can overcome the world?
Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God:
Jesus Christ who came by water and blood,
not with water only, but with water and blood; with the Spirit as another witness –
since the Spirit is the truth – so that there are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water and the blood, and all three of them agree.
We accept the testimony of human witnesses, but God’s testimony is much greater,
and this is God’s testimony, given as evidence for his Son.
Everybody who believes in the Son of God
has this testimony inside him; and anyone who will not believe God is making God out to be a liar, because he has not trusted
the testimony God has given about his Son.
This is the testimony:
God has given us eternal life and this life is in his Son; anyone who has the Son has life,
anyone who does not have the Son does not have life.

I have written all this to you so that you who believe in the name of the Son of God may be sure that you have eternal life.

Gospel

Luke 5:12-16
‘If you want to, you can cure me’

Jesus was in one of the towns when a man appeared, covered with leprosy. Seeing Jesus he fell on his face and implored him. ‘Sir,’ he said ‘if you want to, you can cure me.’ Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said, ‘Of course I want to! Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once. He ordered him to tell no one, ‘But go and show yourself to the priest and make the offering for your healing as Moses prescribed it, as evidence for them.’
His reputation continued to grow, and large crowds would gather to hear him and to have their sickness cured, but he would always go off to some place where he could be alone and pray.